October 14, 2021

Vaccine Mandates

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“The U.S. Labor Department on Tuesday submitted to the White House the initial text of President Joe Biden's plan to require private-sector workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested regularly.” Reuters

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Monday to prohibit any entity, including private business, from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on workers and called on state lawmakers to pass a similar ban into law.” AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left supports Biden’s order as a necessary health measure and criticizes Abbott’s.

“Vaccine requirements are not new. Proof of having been vaccinated against measles, tetanus, and yellow fever, to name a few, are required for travel, certain jobs, and admission to public schools and universities. And when it comes to COVID, the mandates have widespread support. A September 2021 Gallup poll found that 58 percent of people are in favor of the mandate that requires businesses with more than 100 employees to vaccinate their staff…

“[Fox News] channel’s stars have championed the idea that mandates are equivalent to tyranny as opposed to a sensible public health measure. Their guests like conservative writer Ben Domenech have called the rules ‘authoritarianism,’ and ESPN’s Sage Steele, with no irony whatsoever, described her company’s vaccine policies as ‘sick.’ But naturally, Fox News as a business is requiring coronavirus vaccines [or daily tests]. No word yet from stars like Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson on whether they’ll be taking a stand against their own employer.”
Nathalie Baptiste, Mother Jones

“Abbott has seven declared GOP primary opponents, nearly all running against him from the right… He’s clearly feeling the need to continually demonstrate his conservative bona fides. But ‘conservative’ doesn’t mean what it used to, and Abbott’s anti-mandate mandate shows how. His order is a direct contradiction of professed GOP free-market ideology. What could be more ‘big government’ than the governor telling private businesses what they can and can’t demand as a condition of employment or how they decide who they serve?”
Paul Waldman, Washington Post

"Among the companies defying Abbott’s interference with their decision-making are Dallas-based Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, headquartered in Fort Worth. In another signal of just how out there Abbott’s move is, consider that the Greater Houston Partnership, a business group whose members include ExxonMobil and Chevron, came out against the governor’s order, saying it ‘does not support Texas businesses’ ability and duty to create a safe workplace.’ When a Texas governor moves to the right of Big Oil, it’s the end of the world as we know it

“What the federal government, states, localities and private companies are doing in demanding vaccinations is in line with a long U.S. history of vaccine mandates. George Washington mandated smallpox protections for revolutionary troops in 1777. The Supreme Court upheld compulsory vaccination laws in 1905… The anger of the growing vaccinated majority favors Biden in any political showdown with the likes of Abbott. So does the desire of businesses, small and large, to get the economy back to normal.”
E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post

From the Right

The right criticizes both Biden’s and Abbott’s orders as government overreach.

The right criticizes both Biden’s and Abbott’s orders as government overreach.

“Even as the U.S. was turning the corner on Delta, President Biden issued his sweeping vaccine diktats, which he no doubt hoped would boost his flagging public support. Polls show that vaccine mandates are popular with most Americans. But Mr. Biden’s mandate has hardened political opposition to vaccines and turned them into another accelerant for polarization…

“We believe private employers should be allowed to impose their own vaccine requirements. Mr. Abbott’s reflexive response to Mr. Biden’s orders puts employers in a legal quandary. Whatever they do, they will be violating the law. This isn’t fair to businesses.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Back in August, when Abbott banned vaccine mandates issued by local governments, his spokesman reassured the media that employers were still free to do what they like. ‘Private businesses don’t need government running their business,’ said Renae Eze to the Texas Tribune. Less than three months later, Abbott’s had a rethink and decided that businesses do need government to run their shop…

If Abbott wanted to counterprogram Biden’s mandate while standing by his position in August, he could have issued an order asserting that the Tenth Amendment empowers the state government to set health policy and the policy in Texas remains that business owners are free to make their own rules. That would have set up a conflict between the federal mandate and state law for the courts.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

“Many commentators are under the impression that Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905), in which the Supreme Court upheld a vaccine mandate, settles all such questions. But that case involved a state law and a local regulation, not any federal action—a crucial distinction. The states have plenary police power to regulate health and safety. Congress has only those limited powers enumerated in the Constitution…

“The White House justifies the mandate as a proportional response to the spread of Covid’s Delta variant, which is straining hospital capacity in some states. But the mandate is nationwide and indefinite, not tied to Covid rates…

“Further, if public-health benefits are sufficient to justify an OSHA vaccine mandate, what principle would limit the agency’s authority? Could it ban employees from smoking or consuming foods containing trans fats while working at home? The public-health profession has already characterized everything from gun ownership to social-media use as posing a serious public-health issue. Could OSHA legitimately police these, too, even away from the workplace?”
David B. Rivkin Jr. and Robert Alt, Wall Street Journal

A libertarian's take

“Biden's mandate continues to be a massive overreach of executive authority. Abbott's ban on private mandates is little different. Neither is probably all that enforceable, though every business owner in Texas will rightfully fear being held up and punished by one side or the other as an example of what happens to those who refuse to comply. Vaccines remain by far the best strategy for saving lives and ending the pandemic. It makes sense that businesses would want their employees to be vaccinated. Those who refuse the shot should be free to do so, but they do not have a right to any particular job. None of those decisions should require the coercive efforts of state or federal officials.”
Eric Boehm, Reason

On the bright side...

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